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Class of 2025

Fazila Aseem, MD
Fazila Aseem, MD

Hometown: Kabul, Afghanistan
Undergraduate School: Agnes Scott College
Graduate School: Emory University Rollins School of Public Health
Medical School: Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Area of Interest in Neurology: Neuromuscular, neuro-ophthalmology, interventional neurology, stroke, epilepsy
Hobbies: Hiking, biking, fashion designing and watching movies
Why I Chose UNC: 1) Approachable and diverse faculty of physicians, scientists and educators who are enthusiastic about teaching residents about evidence-based medicine and multidisciplinary approach to patient care, 2) energetic, thoughtful and fun group of residents, and 3) large and diverse patient population presenting with a variety of neurological conditions.

Mariko Hanson, MD
Mariko Hanson, MD

Hometown: Edina, Minnesota
Undergraduate School: B.A., Greek, Latin – Smith College
Medical School: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Hobbies: Trail running, reading, vacations, staycations, yoga, gardening
Areas of neurology that interest me: Epilepsy, vascular
Why I chose UNC: The residents and staff are friendly, interesting and excited about the work they are doing. The program encourages us to continue research throughout residency, and also ensures we become well-rounded clinicians. The Chapel Hill/Durham area is perfect for running and eating, my main activities when off work.

Xiayang Li, MD
Xiaoyang Li, MD

Hometown: Shanghai, China
Undergraduate School: Fudan University
Medical School: Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University
Area of Interest in Neurology: Neuroimmunology, neuromuscular
Hobbies: Travel, sports, drawing
Why I Chose UNC: I got to know about UNC Neurology as an elective medical student. I was impressed by the superb clinical training as well as the collegial atmosphere here. I chose UNC because it provides all that I’m looking for in an ideal program and it’s just great to spend four years of training in this beautiful town of Chapel Hill.

Daniel Panebianco, MD
Daniel Panebianco, MD

Hometown: Oceanside, New York
Undergraduate School: State University of New York at Binghamton
Medical School: St. Georges School of Medicine
Area of Interest in Neurology: Undecided
Hobbies: Sports, music, stocks
Why I Chose UNC: UNC had everything I was looking for: youthful area, tech/medicine savvy individuals, a larger population density in surrounding areas, and very strong medicine and neurology programs to further my own progress as a doctor.

Carolyn Tsai, MD
Carolyn Tsai, MD

Hometown: West Bloomfield, Michigan
Undergraduate School: John Hopkins University
Medical School: Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Epilepsy, stroke, dementia
Hobbies: Swimming, running, flute, amateur photography/brush painting/calligraphy, watching (Marvel) movies
Why I Chose UNC: The residents and faculty are kind and supportive, the hospital is a public one dedicated towards caring for its people, and the weather is beautiful.

Siddharth Ninan, MD
Siddharth Ninan, MD

Hometown: Port Washington, New York
Undergraduate School: University of Cambridge
Medical School: Imperial College London
Area of Interest in Neurology: Behavioral Neurology
Hobbies: Travel, tennis, hiking, finding good food, video games, UK detective shows
Why I Chose UNC: Diverse subspecialty expertise and training, engaging and supportive program leadership and faculty, diverse yet cohesive resident class, and good quality of life in the Chapel Hill area!

Luke Van Ells, MD
Luke Van Ells, MD

Hometown: Dickinson, North Dakota
Undergraduate School:
B.S., Chemistry – University of North Dakota
Medical School: Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Undecided
Hobbies: Guitar, tennis, watching anime, other various sports and activities
Why I Chose UNC: The faculty, in particular Dr. Browner, won me over during my interview. As a bonus I loved the idea of being cold less often.

Lindsey Krawchuk, MD
Lindsey Krawchuk, MD

Undergraduate School: B.S., Biology – Presentation College
Medical School: Medical College of Wisconsin
Area of Interest in Neurology: Stroke, ICU
Hobbies: crochet, knitting, baking, cycling, my family and my dog!
Why I Chose UNC: I won’t lie – Dr. Browner was a huge reason. She is such a welcoming and amazing person. But we have been to North Carolina quite a bit and love the state. The hospital has a great history that resonates with me and the program itself is structured efficiently with ample elective opportunities. It was simply the best fit for my family and I!

Timothy Landis, MD
Timothy Landis, MD

Hometown: Winchester, Virginia
Undergraduate School: B.S. in Chemistry – Randolph-Macon College
Medical School: Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
Hobbies: Reading, hiking, photography, traveling, video games
Areas of neurology that interest me: Sleep medicine, movement disorders
Why I chose UNC: I chose UNC first and foremost because of the friendliness of the program. I felt right at home here; it was a place I could see myself staying for four years. UNC also boasts lots of opportunities within neurology to pursue my interests. Being just down the road from good hiking also doesn’t hurt!

Deepthi Nalluri, MD
Deepthi Nalluri, MD

Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio
Undergraduate School: B.S., Biological Sciences – Wright State University
Medical School: Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine
Area of Interest in Neurology: Movement disorders and neuroimmunology
Hobbies: Hiking with my Labrador, traveling, trying new recipes
Why I Chose UNC: The faculty are very approachable, the residents are close knit and I immediately felt at home in the environment. Residency training at UNC will provide an excellent foundation on which to launch a career in neurology. Chapel Hill is beautiful and I can’t wait to explore the surrounding area!

Parin Nanavati, MD
Parin Nanavati, MD

Hometown: Cary, NC
Undergraduate School: B.S., Biology – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Medical School: UNC Chapel Hill
Area of Interest in Neurology: Undecided
Hobbies: Yoga, mountain biking, audiobooks
Why I Chose UNC: Residency training which incorporates a strong foundation in general neurology, as well as opportunities for career exploration, teaching, and research. As a UNC medical student, I observed the collaborative and thoughtful patient care practiced by the neurology residents and faculty. I am excited to continue to be a part of this community, while receiving an exceptional training in neurology and serving the people of North Carolina.

Abigail O’Reggio, MD
Abigail O’Reggio, MD

Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
Undergraduate School: B.A., Biological Sciences – Rutgers University
Medical School: University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Movement, dementia
Hobbies: Hiking, cooking, baking, movies, visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Why I Chose UNC: The faculty and staff at UNC neurology stood out to me as being incredibly genuine and happy working there. The diverse range of interests the residents had both in their professional and personal lives really appealed to me as well. A vast patient and subspecialty exposure, in addition to a program director who seemed completely invested in each and every one of the residents’ futures, further confirmed the feeling that I would not only enjoy this environment but thrive in it!

Cesarina Saldana, MD
Cesarina Saldana, MD

Hometown: Hartford, Connecticut
Undergraduate School: B.A.S., Spanish Communications and Literature – University of Connecticut
Graduate School: Pre-Health Studies – Central Connecticut State University
Medical School: West Virginia University School of Medicine
Area of Interest in Neurology: Currently interested in stroke but open to all other fields in neurology.
Hobbies: I absolutely love traveling, its the best way to experience culture, food and life! One of my favorite things about traveling is going to markets and trying local fruits. I love listening to all types of music and dancing.
Why I Chose UNC: UNC was the best fit for me. It wasn’t about the things it had to offer (which are great and a lot), but how I felt during the interview. Everyone and everything just felt perfect. The program is fantastic and the location is absolutely wonderful with the beaches and mountains so near! I’m so glad I get to spend the next four years of my life training and helping people here.

Jeremy Wells, MD
Jeremy Wells, MD

Hometown: Williamsburg, Virginia
Undergraduate School:
B.S., Biology – The College of William and Mary
Medical School: University of Virginia School of Medicine
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Neuro-critical care
Hobbies: Running, spending time with my wife and our two teenage children, discovering new craft breweries, playing guitar
Why I Chose UNC: I really like the small town feel of Chapel Hill and the bigger city amenities of Raleigh-Durham. The faculty and residents that I met on interview day made me feel that UNC would provide an environment that would help me flourish as a neurologist.

James Andrews II, MD
James Andrews II, MD

Hometown: Hayesville, NC
Undergraduate School: B.S., Biology/Hispanic Linguistics – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Medical School: University of Miami Miller School of Medicine
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Epilepsy, general neurology
Hobbies: Soccer, running, coffee, linguistics
Why I Chose UNC: I think the culture is what really stood out to me. All the faculty and residents seemed genuinely supportive and motivated. UNC also offered great patient diversity and all the right tools to grow as a neurologist. Not to mention the fact that NC has the perfect amount of all four seasons.

Rachel Do, MD
Rachel Do, MD

Hometown: San Jose, California
Undergraduate School: B.S., Biology/Psychology – Stanford University
Medical School: Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Neuroimmunology/multiple sclerosis, behavioral neurology, neuromuscular disorders
Hobbies: Hiking, swimming, kayaking, watching crime dramas, discovering new music
Why I Chose UNC: I chose UNC because of its commitment to patient-centered care and to serving the state, the supportive and collaborative culture among faculty and residents, and the diversity of both the patient population and neurological pathology. And of course, Chapel Hill is a beautiful place to live and work.

Alan Howard Jr, MD
Alan Howard Jr, MD

Hometown: Glencoe, Alabama
Undergraduate School: B.S., Neuroscience – University of Alabama at Birmingham
Medical School: University of Alabama Medical School
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Stroke, movement disorders
Fun Fact: I have been the opening musical act for two Grammy Award winners.
Hobbies: Singer/songwriter, playing piano and guitar, collecting sneakers, playing with my pet pug Elvis, attending sporting events and concerts with my wife.
Why I Chose UNC: From the minute I walked into my interview, the staff and faculty were extremely welcoming and friendly. This made me feel like I was at home. Chapel Hill gives residents the rare opportunity to live in a place with a small town feel, but with all the benefits and access of working at a large metropolitan academic center. I also felt that living inside the Research Triangle is a place where my family and I could thrive.

Joshua Nardin, DO
Joshua Nardin, DO

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina
Undergraduate School: B.S., Chemistry (major), Mathematics (minor) – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Medical School: Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Epilepsy, movement, neurocritical care
Hobbies: Running, cycling, reading, going on adventures with my family
Why I Chose UNC: It is an iconic and storied institution that offers everything I could want in a training program. Additionally, the town of Chapel Hill is near and dear to my heart and provides a culturally rich atmosphere to live and play.

Diana Ontiveros, MD
Diana Ontiveros, MD

Hometown: Tyler, Texas
Undergraduate School:
B.S., Chemistry (major), Psychology (minor) – University of Texas at Austin
Medical School: McGovern Medical School
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Movement disorders
Hobbies: Indoor cycling, hiking, reading, tennis
Why I Chose UNC: During my interview, I felt that the faculty were really open to teaching and mentoring their residents. UNC is a great place to live, but also to receive your neurology training. Lastly, Dr. Browner is wonderful and sold me on the program. You can tell she really cares about the program and its residents. Overall, UNC was the best fit for me.

John Whalen, DO
John Whalen, DO

Hometown: Massapequa, New York
Undergraduate School: B.S., Biology – Union College
Graduate School: Premedical Postbaccalaurate Studies – Hofstra University
Medical School: New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Parkinson’s disease, movement disorders and stroke
Hobbies: Lacrosse, weight lifting, fishing
Why I Chose UNC: I chose UNC due to the family-like atmosphere, the many opportunities in research, and the success of the residents who graduated from this program. I also appreciate the UNC’s fantastic location, rich history and national reputation.

Laura de Lima Xavier, MD
Laura de Lima Xavier, MD

Hometown: Porto Alegre, Brazil
Medical School:
Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do Sul – Porto Alegre, Brazil
Areas of Interest in Neurology: Movement disorders, neuromodulation, neuroimaging
Hobbies: Biking, reading, live concerts, vinyl records
Why I Chose UNC: The evident collegiality and friendliness of residents and faculty, and Dr. Browner’s unparalleled dedication to resident education, support and wellness. Additional attractions include the program’s diverse patient population, the range of opportunities for specialization and research, UNC’s location in the innovative Research Triangle, the great local weather, and the diverse natural beauty in the region that I can’t wait to explore!

Kelby Brown, MD
Kelby Brown, MD

Hometown: Born in Salt Lake City, Utah. Grew up in Charlotte, NC.
Undergraduate School: Duke University – B.S., Evolutionary Anthropology
Medical School: Duke University Medical School
Area of Interest in Neurology: Neurocritical care among others
Hobbies: Guitar, reading, gardening, cooking, bread baking, exercise, travel
Why I Chose UNC: I choose UNC because I felt at home with everyone I met and know I’ll get excellent training.

Xem Bui, MD
Xem Bui, MD

Hometown: Gastonia, NC
Undergraduate School: John Jay College of Criminal Justice – Forensic Psychology
Medical School: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
Area of Interest in Neurology: Undecided
Hobbies: Hiking, working out, trying new restaurants, traveling
Why I Chose UNC: I was initially drawn to UNC’s emphasis on prioritizing patient care and its dedication to serving the uninsured. During the interview process, the faculty were super personable and welcoming, and made me feel at home right off the bat. I felt like it would be a place where I would have vast opportunities available to me, but still be in a supportive, familial environment.

Amanda Crooks, MD
Amanda Crooks, MD

Hometown: Born in San Jose, CA, but grew up in Cary, NC.
Undergraduate School: University of North Carolina at Charlotte – B.S., Biology
Medical School: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Area of Interest in Neurology: Epilepsy, cognitive, critical care
About Me: My favorite thing in the world is just hanging out with my husband and our two rescue dogs – a boxer and a pit bull. I love baseball and my husband and I are on a mission to see a game in every major league ballpark. The thing that excites me most is planning trips – I love to travel! I am a huge Disney fan and I had my bachelorette party in Disney World. I also love cheese. And potatoes.
Hobbies: Hobbies include kayaking, eating out, and listening to 80’s music. I love anything I can do outdoors, and I’m currently trying to learn how to golf.
Why I Chose UNC: A truly supportive group of people who encourage curiosity and have a passion for patient-centered care. Plus, you can’t tell me there’s a color more beautiful than Carolina Blue – go Heels!

Claire Books, MD
Claire Books, MD

Hometown: Charlotte, NC / Marion, IN
Undergraduate School: Indiana Wesleyan University – B.A., Biochemistry, Intercultural Studies
Medical School: Indiana University School of Medicine
Area of Interest in Neurology: Movement disorders
Hobbies: Hiking, running, travel, anything outdoors with our dogs
Why I Chose UNC: My first impression of UNC was Dr. Browner’s warmth and passion. It was clear how much she loves her residents and strives to help each resident find their perfect fit within neurology. UNC Hospitals’ dedication to caring for the underserved and impressive facilities also had a lasting impression. Overall, UNC seemed like a fantastic institution to receive training and Chapel Hill seemed like an ideal place to live.

Nikoloz Karazanashvili, MD
Nikoloz Karazanashvili, MD

Hometown: Tbilisi, Georgia
Medical School: Tbilisi State Medical University Faculty of Medicine, Georgia
Area of Interest in Neurology: Neuroimmunology, vascular neurology, general neurology
Hobbies: Swimming, traveling, weight lifting, reading manga
Why I Chose UNC: I was pleased to find out where I matched, as I truly believe that UNC was the perfect fit for me. The family-like environment, wide sub-specialty exposure, and ample opportunities to get involved with research and teaching are what drew me to the program. What I admired most about UNC was seeing how invested the leadership is in each resident’s success. Also, the fact that I get to live in beautiful Chapel Hill is a wonderful bonus.

Luke Kupcha, MD
Luke Kupcha, MD

Hometown: Hilo, Hawaii
Undergraduate School: University of Hawaii – B.A., Cell and Molecular Biology
Medical School: McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston
Area of Interest in Neurology: Stroke
Hobbies: Ultimate Frisbee, tennis, table tennis, and Nintendo
Why I Chose UNC: Everyone is extraordinarily kind and friendly. Even though my interview was through Zoom I really felt at home at UNC. Also, I really love spending time outdoors.

Aaron Meller, MD
Aaron Meller, MD

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Undergraduate School: Cornell University – B.S., Electrical and Computer Engineering
Medical School: Sackler School of Medicine – New York State American Branch, Israel
Area of Interest in Neurology: Neurophysiology and neurobehavior
Hobbies: Running, travel
Why I Chose UNC: The wonderful interview experience and program reputation. From the warm and welcoming faculty to the southern charm of Chapel Hill, I got the sense that I would be able to thrive in this wonderful community.